About Mapping Iceland
Discover the past of Iceland on historical maps
This site is dedicated to printed maps of Iceland from the beginning until 1850. The main purpose is to store and make available my collection of maps. Secondly, as my knowledge of the subject is limited, I am hoping that there will be some experts who will come across the page and be so kind as to give me advice, regarding the page or my collection.
I am restricting my collection to printed maps. Manuscript (hand drawn) maps fall outside of my definition. Printed maps that are only known to be found in very limited number of copies, so as to be practically unobtainable, also fall outside it. It is a webpage of an individual collector of maps, not academic work. Most of the maps I have found on the internet, on auction sites or at websites of dedicated map sellers or sellers of antique books. It has taken quite a bit of time to find those that are already in my collection. This is my hobby and I enjoy the “hunt“ for maps I do not have before or better copies, for example with original coloring. The price of the maps of Iceland range from 100$ to 10.000$. You can easily build a nice collection for an amount that would not intimidate those having hobbies like golf or hiking, as an example. Printed maps differ from most other work of art in that there are more than one copies of an original. As an example, the famous Islandia of Abraham Ortelius was printed in about 4.000 copies in the years 1590-1612. It is impossible to know how many of those exist today, but each one of those is an original as would be the case with other printed material.
I know of people who have economically built up valuable collection by searching on the internet, visiting antique shop and participating in online auctions. I am mentioning this to underline that collecting maps is not only for those having a lot of money to spend and I would encourage anyone interested in history or art to give it a go.
I collect maps of Iceland, not maps of a bigger region that include Iceland. A state of the plates used for printing constitute a map. If the plates are changed, the new printing is a new map, otherwise not. An index of the maps I believe fall under this criterion is here. I decided to make an exception when it came to the period pre-1600 and include in my collections regional maps (smaller than whole of Europe) covering Iceland and surrounding countries. Inset maps (where Iceland appears separately on a map of other region) are included in the collection. However, if inset the maps of Iceland are small and with limited details, then I am not including them. This is an arbitrary measure, but while some inset maps are quite big and full of details, others don’t contribute at all to the story.
Additionally, there are some maps in the collection that I believe give good background to the early mapping of Iceland, even if they show a bigger region. Also, some maps that are important for the history of cartography. Some maps that have been included in books or collections I have bought for my collection. Or just maps I have added because I wanted to.
Please let me have your suggestions on how this webpage can be improved. Also if you have some of the maps I am missing or are looking for particular maps yourselves.